3, 2, 1… And it’s party season. Around this time of year, we’re expected to whip a shoulder out, dust the cobwebs off our collarbones and put our glad-rags on, all in the name of the Christmas spirit. Where for some the emphasis is on the makeup they will be wearing, our focus will always be on the skin underneath the makeup. It is the canvas after all and a smoother, higher quality canvas will always make a better painting.
In the ideal, dream, Kardashian life, we would simply nip for a facial before any event. Although it would do a fantastic job, it ain’t feasible. We don’t have the time nor the money when Christmas parties roll around which means we may need to step in and DIY it. “DIY a facial?”, you ask. With our help, your at-home facial will be as close to the real thing as you can get (without you needing an official qualification, of course).
Before you dig in, you must understand why facials are carried out in the first place – they are a multi-modal, multi-step skincare treatment in which you assist the skin in all of its own vital processes and give a quick, instantaneous boost to the appearance of the skin.
Every facial is different but for the most part, they follow this series of steps (in order). Disclaimer: facialists do have their own modes and methods so if a facialist ever changes this order, don’t panic!
Steps to do a DIY facial at home
This step ensures that your skin is cleansed of all makeup, SPF and any physical debris (pollution particles etc.) prior to the cleansing step.
Your cleanser will remove any traces of makeup and prep the skin for the ingredients that will follow in the next steps.
The removal of dead skin cells from the uppermost surface of the skin to brighten and decongest, whether physical (scrubs, grits, polishes or tools) or chemical (exfoliating powders, cleansers, toners and masques). We always say chemical, as it is the more friendly and powerful in the long-term.
The facial massage step that therapists carry out in both spas and salons is for the purpose of a) boosting skin circulation, b) lymphatic drainage, c) relaxation and d) ensuring that your skin will accept following product to its best advantage.
Follow this up with a mode of hydration, whether a masque, sheet mask or a serum that packs a real punch. It’s important that we hydrate the skin after we’ve gotten rid of dead skin cells as the product will penetrate into the pores better this way. We want those hydrating ingredients to get as deep into the epidermis as possible for longer-lasting effects.
Here, we pop in a serum that will provide different benefits to the hydration step before – a brightening serum would be my go-to.
The final step if you’re heading out for the night to balance the skin, to be followed with SPF if this is a facial for a day affair.
The difference between a facial in a salon or spa versus at home is that it’s unlikely that you will have the same level of products or tools to hand. Your exfoliation step in a salon may be an incredibly potent exfoliating acid blend and the DIY version will use something gentler and home-friendly. Will you get the same results? Not exactly but you can get very close and at the very least, it will give you a glow that people will comment on without the need for lashings and lashings of highlighter.
Here are some recommendations for the nerdiest of nerdie at-home facials:
DIY facial at home: products for pre-cleansing
Your pre-cleanse step actually includes two products – sound a bit extra? Not necessarily. Remember, it’s about getting as close to the professional facial as possible and professionals do not skip steps.
You can pair the Cleanse Off Mitt® (€5.95 on The Skin Nerd store) with a mild, oil-based pre-cleanse product such as the Environ Skin EssentiA Dual Action Pre-Cleansing Oil (€24.00, available on the Nerd Network store). Oil-based is the way as oil loves oil and attaches itself to it to wash it away, particularly so when you follow it up with another cleansing step.
The Cleanse Off Mitt® is preferable to a more traditional face cloth due to the microfibre loops which create an attraction between the mitt and the oils and debris on the skin, sucking it off like a tiny hoover for your face.
Rub the Pre-Cleansing Oil gently onto dry skin, outwards from the nose towards your heart to aid with lymphatic drainage and don’t forget the eye area and your eye makeup. It will turn your made-up face into the cover art for Lady Gaga’s ‘Applause’ which is what you’re aiming for.
Remove the mess with a lukewarm (NOT HOT – this can cause broken capillaries and strip the skin) Cleanse Off Mitt® and leave your face damp.
DIY facial at home: products for cleansing
Ah, cleansing – a staple that cannot be forgotten when it comes to any facial. Because of the exfoliation step coming up later on, opt for an inactive, nourishing cleanser that will simply remove your makeup, like Académie Derm Acte Dermo Cleanser Intolerant Skin (€24.40).
If you are incredibly well-adjusted to and using high amounts of exfoliating acids like glycolic acid, salicylic or lactic acid regularly, you could use an exfoliating cleanser in this step just be careful not to leave it on your skin for too long. Over-exfoliation is a skin sin!
Once again, thoroughly remove with a damp Cleanse Off Mitt®.
DIY facial at home: products for exfoliation
To keep it nice and non-risky, go for an exfoliant such as the Dermalogica Daily Superfoliant (€63.00 on The Skin Nerd store). The active exfoliating ingredients in this are enzymes which work to gobble up dead skin cells like little Pac Mans in a very skin-friendly way. I like to use this by mixing it with a drop or two of water to make a semi-liquid paste and then I gently massage it into my face for about a minute. You can leave it on for a few minutes for a more thorough exfoliation, especially if you don’t actually use it daily.
What’s next? You guessed it – rinse her off with a damp Cleanse Off Mitt®. The pro tip is to gently press the Cleanse Off Mitt against the skin, rather than rubbing off the product, to prevent dragging which can irritate the skin and over time can even cause mechanical lines and wrinkles. Thank you, next.
For the skin-savvy and for those who are regularly exfoliating with acids, you can use something more powerful such as Neostrata Glycolic Treatment Peel Kits (€60.00, available on the Nerd Network store), which contain a high amount of glycolic acid and citric acid. Be warned – this does cause a tingle and the lips should be avoided!
DIY facial at home: how to do a facial massage
Depending on the type of person you are, you’ve either been excited to learn how to do this or absolutely dreading it. It’s easier than you’d think, especially if you are trying to keep it simple like I will do here.
Your main goal is to apply enough pressure that you can feel it in the muscle without irritating your gentle skin. First, you need to warm up a facial oil or slippery serum in your hands and apply it your face. This will give you slip to massage your face without just pulling your nose over to your jawline. Starting on your forehead, move from the centre out towards your temples and downwards. In terms of technique, for the most part, I go for a rolling motion using the flat part of my finger just above the knuckle with my hands in a fist towards my face, moving one finger at a time. Don’t forget to continue down to your neck!
DIY facial at home: Spritz O’Clock #1
Spritzing post-massage and pre-masque and serum help the masque and serum to penetrate better. The classic is the Yon-Ka Lotion PS (€32.00 on The Skin Nerd store). Spritz O’Clock is not only important in facials but we believe them to be integral to your daily skincare routine as spritzing is a way to provide moisture to your skin without destroying your makeup. We aren’t all the wondrous type of person who never wears foundation during the week!
DIY facial at home: hydration
When it comes to blasting the skin with hydration, I adore a sheet mask. The IMAGE I-Mask Biomolecular Anti-Ageing Radiance Mask (€11.50 on The Skin Nerd store) is a powerhouse as it simultaneously hydrates, brightens and firms the skin. Ingredients-wise, there’s liquorice root extract, a botanical brightener, niacinamide, aka the B vitamin that tackles spots and pigment, and hyaluronic acid in the form of sodium hyaluronate to provide deep hydration.
Another option for a heap of hyaluronic is the Seoulista Super Hydration Instant Facial (€9.00 on The Skin Nerd store), which is a firm favourite in the Nerd Network as the effect is instant and makeup goes on beautifully after use.
Pop your sheet mask on for 20 – 30 minutes, sit back and put your feet up. Don’t wash your face after, instead, tap in any serum left on the skin.
Not a sheet mask fan? The Caudalie Moisturising Mask (€24.00, available on the Nerd Network store) is utterly amazing as it contains squalene and glycerine, two hydrating ingredients that do not cause breakouts in those prone to acne.
DIY facial at home: serum
Sheet masks are simply an intense serum with an occlusive modality, ie. the mask that locks the serum onto the skin. Because of this, the serum step in our at-home facial needs to provide a different benefit to our hydration step. The IMAGE Iluma Intense Brightening Serum (€52.00 on The Skin Nerd store) is wonderful in Winter when skin is looking a tad duller due to slower turnover and the likelihood of our barriers not being at their best due to windy weather.
Apply two pumps directly to the face and smooth it across your face with your finger tips. Avoid massaging it in as you will end up with more of those beneficial ingredients soaking into your hands than into your face.
DIY facial at home: Spritz O’Clock #2
Finish a facial with another Spritz O’Clock. It boosts hydration in the uppermost layers of your skin and helps to rebalance the skin. Bonus: makeup will sit better afterwards too.
If you are heading to a day event, pop on a mattifying SPF prior to your makeup. If you aren’t, move straight on to makeup.
Although the products mentioned here were chosen with Winter in mind, you can do this particular at-home facial whenever you like, prior to weddings, christenings, girls nights out or just for a bit of “me time”. You can adjust it by using a more potent exfoliant or a different type of masque entirely… Be careful though and not to put too many acids or exfoliating ingredients in there at any given time.